When shopping for appliances, think of two price tags. The first one covers the purchase price; think of it as a down payment. The second price tag is the cost of operating the appliance during its lifetime. You’ll be paying on that second price tag every month with your utility bill for the next 10 to 20 years, depending on the appliance. Refrigerators last an average of 20 years and room air conditioners last an average of 10 years.

To help discern whether an appliance is energy efficient, the federal government requires most appliances to display the bright yellow and black EnergyGuide label. Although these labels will not tell you which appliance is the most efficient, they will tell you the annual energy consumption and operating cost for each appliance so you can compare them yourself.

Appliance Tips

Even idle appliances use or “leak” some energy 24 hours a day, primarily for keeping display clocks lit, etc. These energy uses and leaks account for 5 percent of total domestic energy consumption, cost more than $3 billion annually, and emit 18 million tons of carbon into the atmosphere. Therefore, turn off computers and other appliances (radios, fans, etc.) when not in use.

Staff with printers and fax machines in their individual offices should enable the power saving modes, if available.

Turn non-network printers off when not in use.

If you are the last person to leave the building, turn off copier(s), scanner(s), speakers, etc., and any lights left on, including in the bathrooms and conference rooms.

Computers should be completely turned off (monitor and pc unit) when leaving your office or work station for extended periods or if your computer will be inactive for a similarly extended period of time. Similarly, turn off your computers completely - it is common for individuals to leave their computer monitors on, even over nights and weekends. However, the monitor uses more energy to operate than the pc unit, even while it is in “sleep mode.” Turning computers completely off while not in use cuts costs, saving $31 per year per 19 inch monitor, and improves longevity.


  • http://www.energystar.gov ENERGY STAR is a government-backed program helping businesses and individuals protect the environment through superior energy efficiency. There are links to manufacturers, retailers, builders, and energy service and product providers on this site.
  • http://www.energystar.gov/index.cfm?c=bulk_purchasing.bus_purchasing This site provides product lists, store locators, and some energy savings calculators for a wide range of ENERGY STAR products.


U.S. Department of the Interior

Greening of the Interior